iOS 16

iOS 16

Let’s start at the beginning: iOS is Apple’s iPhone software, and the number that follows it represents the software version. Each September, Apple rolls out its large annual updates. For example, iOS 15.0 was released in September 2021, and iOS 16.0 was released in September 2022. While Apple releases more incremental feature updates and bug fixes throughout the year, the September software update tends to have far more redesigned and newly-added features.

For those who haven’t already updated, we’ll start by quickly covering iOS 16 device compatibility and a quick pre-update checklist to make sure your software update runs smoothly. If you’ve already updated, skip to learning about some of our favorite iOS 16 features and upgrades.

Which iPhone Models Can Update to iOS 16?

iOS 16 is compatible with iPhone 8 and later models, including the iPhone X, XR, XS, and SE (2nd and 3rd generation). If you’d like to view a complete list of compatible devices, you can also check out our article covering iOS 16 compatibility.

Not sure what iPhone model you have? No worries! Check the back of your iPhone, or open the Settings app, tap General, then tap About. You’ll see your iPhone model listed next to Model Name.

Pre-Update Checklist

To ensure your update runs smoothly, let's go over this important checklist before you update your software:

  • Make sure you have at least 5 GB of free iPhone storage space.
  • Make sure your phone is securely backed up to iCloud or a computer.
  • Plan on not being able to use your iPhone for up to two hours.
  • Plug your phone into a charger.
    Why? The update will pause if your battery drops to 50 percent or less, so it’s best to keep your phone plugged in throughout this power-intensive process.
  • Make sure you’re connected to a stable and secure Wi-Fi network.

That’s it! You’re ready to update your iPhone to iOS 16.

How to Update to iOS 16

Once you’ve completed the pre-update checklist above, follow these steps to update your software:

  1. Open the Settings app, then scroll down and tap General.

  2. Tap Software Update.

  3. If your iPhone is not set to update automatically, you should see an available update. Tap Download & Install. While the updates downloads, you'll see a "Verifying update" notification.

  4. Once the new operating system is finished downloading, tap Install Now.

  5. Agree to the Terms and Conditions.
  6. Your phone will power down. Then it will power back up and install the new software.
  7. Once your Lock Screen comes back up, unlock your iPhone. Follow any on-screen directions to complete the update.

Pro Tip: Did you know you can enable automatic iPhone software updates? Not only is this incredibly convenient, it also helps to make sure you have all the latest security updates and bug fixes.

Messages & Mail Updates

The original purpose of the iPhone was communication, so it makes sense to begin with these much-needed updates to the Messages and Mail apps.

Typos Begone! Edit Sent Text Messages

How many times have we quickly sent texts with errors and typos, only to quickly send a follow-up text starting with the infamous asterisk to note the correction? With iOS 16, you can edit an iMessage sent less than 15 minutes ago to help avoid confusion. To edit a text message you’ve recently sent:

  1. Press and hold the text message you want to edit.

  2. Tap Edit.

  3. Make your changes. You can even delete and completely rewrite the text! Tap the check mark when you’re done.

  4. Your edit will be sent without a confirmation and the recipient of your text will see that your original message was edited.

While the ability to edit texts is often helpful, there are some limitations with this feature, since it involves the recipient’s device. If the other person has an iPhone, but hasn't updated to iOS 16, they will see your original text as well as the edits you made. This feature also only works with iMessage, not with SMS messages (such as those sent to Android devices).

Mark a Message as Unread

This is a feature we’ve long wished for, and is especially helpful when you read a text but don’t have time to respond right away. Marking a text as unread leaves the unread notification badge so you don’t forget to respond later. To mark a message as unread:

  1. Swipe right over the conversation thread you wish to mark as unread.

    Swipe to mark a text as unread.
  2. Tap the blue Messages icon with a notification badge.

    Tap the blue message icon to mark the text as unread.
  3. The message will now be marked with a blue dot and you will see the notification badge appear over your Messages app (unless you have notification badges disabled or a Focus mode turned on hides your notification badges to reduce distractions).

    You'll see a notification badge next to the conversation.

The recipient will still see the message as read on their end. Even though it’s now possible to mark text threads as unread on your end, as long as the message is open, it will show as “read” to the sender unless you have Send Read Receipts turned off.

Recover Deleted Text Messages

Recovering deleted texts used to be a hassle, and required you to restore your phone from a recent backup. So we were pleased to see Apple add a Recently Deleted folder to the Messages app. Now when you delete a text on your iPhone, it will go to your Recently Deleted folder where it can be viewed, permanently deleted, or recovered for up to 30 days after deletion. Curious? Here’s how you can view your recently deleted texts:

  1. Open the Messages app and tap Edit in the top left corner. (If you have Filter Unknown Senders enabled in Settings, tap Filters in the top corner instead.)

  2. From the menu that appears, tap Show Recently Deleted. (If you tapped Filters in the step above, tap the Recently Deleted folder.)

  3. You can select individual message threads to delete by tapping the empty circle(s) next to them and selecting Recover.

The texts will be restored to the main screen of your Messages app, where they’ll remain unless you decide to delete them again. If you have specific questions about this feature, you can also learn more about retrieving deleted texts.

Note: Filter Unknown Senders is a little-known Messages setting that sorts your texts into folders. If this feature is enabled, you’ll see “Filters” in the top-left corner of your Messages app in Step 1.

Schedule Emails to Send at a Later Time

The Mail app is another important communication tool that many of us use regularly on our iPhones. Upgrades to Mail include valuable features such as the ability to schedule an email to send at a later time.

  1. Open the Mail app and compose an email.
  2. Once you've finished composing your email and adding recipients, long-press the Send icon.

  3. You'll be presented with options to send your email now, at a later default time (these are automatically suggested), or to send later. To enter a custom date and time, tap Send Later.

  4. If you want to send your email at a later date or time, tap each to set when you’d like to send the email.

  5. Tap Done and your email will be scheduled to send at your set time.

Once you’ve scheduled an email, it will appear in a Send Later folder until it has been sent.

Accidentally Sent an Email? Unsend It!

Have you ever tapped Send and immediately realized that something was wrong with your email? We’ve all been there. With iOS 16 you can unsend, but only if you do it within 10–30 seconds of tapping send, depending on your settings. While this is a short amount of time, it can still save you a lot of embarrassment or having to write a follow-up correction email. To do this:

  1. Open the Mail app.
  2. Draft an email and select a recipient. (If you’d like, you can create a practice one to send to yourself.)
  3. Tap the Send icon.

  4. At the bottom of your phone, you will see an Undo Send button. Tap it to stop the email from sending.

If you wait longer than ten seconds, you won’t be able to unsend the email, unless you change the Undo Send Delay time in your settings. If you want to change this, open the Settings app, tap Mail, tap Undo Send Delay, and adjust the delay time.

Note: You can unsend an email regardless of whether the recipient has an iPhone or is running the latest software.

Customized Lock Screens

Creating a great Lock Screen used to just mean choosing an awesome photo. But now, you can change your Lock Screen font and color, add widgets, and even save multiple Lock Screens so you can easily shift back and forth between your favorites.

Create the Lock Screen of Your Dreams

To create a new Lock Screen on an iPhone without a Home button, follow the steps below. (If you have an older iPhone with a Home button, check out this alternative method to customize your Lock Screen.) First, make sure your iPhone is unlocked, then:

  1. Tap and hold your Lock Screen until you see the Customize button at the bottom of your screen.
  2. Tap the blue plus icon to see the Add New Wallpaper menu options.

  3. At the very top you’ll see circular icons. You can swipe left to see more options. These include Photo, People, Photo Shuffle, Emoji, Weather, Astronomy, and Color. Selecting one of these lets you build a Lock Screen from scratch.

  4. Right under that, you’ll see Featured wallpapers. These show preset options if you want to test them out without spending too much time customizing them.

  5. Under Featured, you should see Suggested Photos from your camera roll.

  6. If you keep scrolling down, you’ll see more preset options under each main theme. Tap on a wallpaper to select or customize it.

    Tap to select a wallpaper for your Lock Screen.
  7. If you like the way it looks off the bat, you can tap Add.

    Tap Add to save your new Lock Screen.
  8. Then select Set as Wallpaper Pair or Customize Home Screen. If you select Wallpaper Pair, your Home Screen will look like your wallpaper, but blurred. If you select Customize Home Screen, you’ll be able to create a different Home Screen.

    Select Customize Home Screen or Set as Wallpaper Pair.

Because each theme has different customization options, we recommend playing around with each to achieve your desired effect!

Color Coordination: Change Your Lock Screen’s Font & Color

Once you’re in the Add New Wallpaper menu described in the steps above:

  1. Tap a wallpaper option you like.
  2. Tap the time to open the Font & Color menu.

  3. Pick from one of the eight fonts. You can tap on a font to see how it looks.

  4. Next, you can pick a color at the bottom of the screen. (If you tap to select a color, you can make it darker or lighter by moving the slider below.)

  5. If you swipe as left as you can go on the color options, you can tap the rainbow circle to see more advanced color options.

That’s it! Once you’ve set a font and font color, it will be saved with that associated Lock Screen until you change it again.

Add Widgets to Your Lock Screen

In iOS 16, there are two spots on the Lock Screen where you can add widgets! However, Lock Screen widgets are more similar to Apple Watch complications because you are limited to where you can place them. This also determines their design and the information displayed. Here’s how to add them:

  1. Select a Lock Screen you wish to add widgets to or create a new one from scratch.
  2. Tap one of the two areas where you can add widgets. I’ll start by tapping the date.

  3. The Add Widgets menu will pop up. At the very top, you’ll see Suggestions. You may see different options depending on the apps you have.
  4. Scroll down to see more options. Tap on one to see how it looks. You’ll notice that with any selection, the date will remain and be on the left.

  5. Next, tap the rounded rectangle below the time.

  6. Here you’ll see a slightly different selection of widgets. You can select up to four square ones, two rectangle ones, or one rectangle and two square ones. You don’t have to fill the entire space if you don’t want to!

  7. If you scroll down, you’ll see a list of apps; tap on one. You’ll see a selection of widgets available for that app. Tap the one(s) you wish to add or drag them into the space.

  8. When you're finished, tap Add.

Now you know how to add widgets to your Lock Screens!

Fitness App Comes to iPhone: How to Set It Up

Let’s talk about the Apple Fitness app, which was previously only usable on iPhones in conjunction with an Apple Watch. Now, if you have an iPhone running iOS 16, you can start using the Fitness app to track your activity levels and burned calories, even without an Apple Watch. To set up the Fitness app on your iPhone:

  1. Open the Fitness app.

  2. Your first time opening the app you'll get a welcome screen. Tap Continue.

  3. The first time you start the app you'll also be prompted to confirm your health data. If you need to adjust this information, tap the section you need to correct and enter the right information. Once the information is accurate, tap Continue.

  4. Pick your Daily Move Goal. It will start with a very low amount, and can be adjusted later. You can tap the Lightly, Moderately, or Highly buttons, or the Plus or Minus icons next to the Calorie number to set a goal.
  5. When you're finished, tap Continue.

  6. Finally, the app will ask you whether you wish to receive notifications. Tap Continue.
  7. In the new window that appears, tap either Allow or Don't Allow depending on your preference.

  8. Now, on the main Summary screen, make sure to learn about Trends by tapping the small Get Started in the Trends box. Read about Activity Trends, then tap OK.

Note: You can change your settings at any time or update your Daily Move Goal by tapping the small Account icon in the upper right corner.

Now you're ready to go! The Fitness app will track your steps, flights of stairs climbed, calories burned, and other activity information.

Road Trip? Add Multi-Stop Routes in Apple Maps

With iOS 16, the Apple Maps app received many upgrades, our favorite being the ability to create multi-stop routes in Apple Maps. This is especially useful for those long road trips or busy errand days. Sadly, multi-stop routes don't work for transit directions (such as for subways or buses), but you can add them for cycling, walking, and driving directions.

Here’s how to add multiple stops to a route in Apple Maps:

  1. Open the Maps app and use the search bar to enter a destination. Tap the destination.

  2. Tap the transit mode shown and select the car icon to show you driving directions.

  3. Tap Add Stop.

  4. Use the search bar to enter your destination. Select it.

  5. Repeat the last two steps as needed to add your required stops.
  6. You can use the three horizontal lines icon to drag the locations and rearrange the stops.

  7. When you are ready to start your journey, tap GO.

Pro Tip: You can plan a route on your Mac and sync it to your iPhone. Once you set up the route, click File, then click Send to Device and select your iPhone. While this isn’t a completely new iOS 16 feature, sharing a route with multiple stops is only possible if both your iPhone and Mac are running the latest software.